Politburo bid to re-write Draft Constitution

ZANU PF wants to remove provisions on devolution of power and dual citizenship in the new draft constitution amid revelations Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders criticised the party’s conduct in the troubled constitution-making process.\r\n

The Zanu PF politburo rewrote the constitution after the Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) submitted the draft to the principals in the inclusive government. 

Proposed amendments concluded last week had been kept a secret, but were released by Nathaniel Manheru — a columnist in the State media believed to be President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba — at the weekend.

He said Zanu PF also wants a proposal on running mates that was widely believed to be a way of managing Mugabe’s succession scrapped.
“After the Zanu PF review, the word ‘devolution’ is nowhere in sight. Nowhere! Decentralisation, yes, but not devolution,” Manheru wrote, emphasising that Zanu PF would not budge on its entrenched position even if it meant derailing the constitution-making process.

He said the proposal for presidential candidates to choose running mates that automatically become Vice-Presidents in the event of an election victory had been scrapped. Presidential powers that had been watered down in the Copac draft were restored in the Zanu PF proposals.

“The mating clause falls away, and our Prime Minister (Morgan Tsvangirai) will only be too grateful to Zanu PF for dealing with that vexatious one,” wrote Manheru, who added that foreign funding of political parties had also been disallowed in the Zanu PF draft. 

The new proposals have already triggered discord in the inclusive government as the two MDCs insist there must be no further negotiations in the constitution-making process.

However, it is the scrapping of provisions on devolution that would come as shock for Zimbabweans especially in the Matabeleland provinces who had vigorously campaigned for the governance system citing marginalisation.

Soon after the Sadc summit in Maputo, Mozambique, on Saturday, Mugabe told journalists he would meet the other principals to resolve the latest impasse. 

The parties in the inclusive government were told to put their house in order and prepare for fresh elections.

Sources said Botswana President Ian Seretse Khama, Sadc chairperson Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia quizzed Mugabe on why Zanu PF was backtracking on the constitution after its negotiators had okayed the Copac draft.

Zanu PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said the party agreed to 97% of the provisions in the draft before hardliners forced a complete U-turn.

Mugabe told the 32nd Sadc Heads of State and Government summit that the draft was still open for negotiation by principals since the negotiators were subservient to them. 

This reportedly drew the ire of other Sadc leaders, who accused him of misinterpreting the process guiding the constitution-making process and seeking to derail a national programme just because he mistrusted his party negotiators.

Mugabe was accompanied by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Foreign Affairs minister Samuel Mumbengegwi while MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti stood in for Tsvangirai who reportedly left the summit for “emergency business” in South Africa. 

MDC leader Welshman Ncube was accompanied by his party secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga yesterday said they would revert to their original positions on the draft if Zanu PF insisted on amending the document that now awaits scrutiny at the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference set for October.

“I foresee a situation whereby another emergency Sadc Troika meeting would be called to discuss the issue of the constitution after a stalemate,” she said.

Sadc facilitator in the Zimbabwe talks and South African President Jacob Zuma last week had noted that there were ‘hitches’ in the constitution-making process. – NewsDay